2 things you need to know when switching to Office 365

 In Cloud, Microsoft, Office 365

Switching from Office on premises to Office 365 (O365) seems like a natural step—it’s the future of Microsoft, comes with tons of great benefits, and it allows you to work from a user-based system, rather than a device-based system. In most cases, you get more overall value out of the program.

However, switching from a device-based program to a user-based program, and from an ownership model to a subscription one, doesn’t always go smoothly. Processes like installation, true up, and licensing often look similar to what you’re used to, but need to be handled differently with O365.

To help you escape these mistakes—or recognize that you might be making them—here are two of the most common differences users face when switching to O365.

Installation is not what you might expect

One of the big, though overlooked, differences between Office on premises and O365 is the installation process. While on-premises programs typically use KMS or MAK for installation, O365 uses the streaming and virtualization program Click-to-Run for installation and updates.

The streaming abilities of Click-to-Run allow users to access the Office programs before the entire installation is complete. If you want to use a feature that hasn’t yet been installed, Click-to-Run will prioritize downloading that feature. Once the entire program is installed, you can disconnect from the network and continue to run the program normally. This same process applies to upgrades, which are run automatically.

One other major difference is that installation is user-based, rather than device-based. Instead of needing a separate license for each piece of hardware, each user can install O365 on up to five desktops or laptops, five tablets, and five smartphones all on the same license.

New licenses can’t wait for true ups

One of the most common misunderstandings about O365 is how different the true-up process is from other, device-based Office programs. Typically, if a business has 500 licenses, and wants to grow to 525, it would simply add the extra 25 devices. When the true-up period comes around, typically between 90 and 30 days before your anniversary, you would simply count your inventory, and report back to Microsoft how many devices are using the program. Microsoft would then adjust your total licenses on the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC).

Office on premises operates on an ownership model, so it didn’t matter when you paid for the licenses, so long as you paid. Because of this, you could use additional licenses during the year and pay for them later. For O365, which works on a subscription basis, you need to pay for the service while you’re using it—so the process works differently.

With O365, there are generally two ways to grow your license count. The first is a regular order, in which payment happens as users are added, on an ad hoc basis. The other is a license reservation, where the online service manager can go into the VLSC site, add the extra licenses, and then reconcile that retroactive usage during the true-up period (60-30 days prior to anniversary).

If you carry your old true-up habits with you when switching to O365, you could find yourself facing compliance issues in the long run, even if you do it accidentally.

 New process, new benefits

Any change in software or hardware is going to come with its challenges as well as rewards. O365 often lowers prices, since users can install it across up to 15 devices, and has cloud collaboration tools, seamless upgrade rollouts, and scalability that Office on premises can’t compete with.

Just make sure to avoid any confusion when it comes to installation and licensing, and you’ll make your transition as smooth as possible. If in doubt, contact your SHI account executive to discuss how to make the move and get the most out of O365.

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  • Joe Gutierrez

    Awesome new process, new benefits.

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